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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    5

    Default Where to File Small Claims Case

    I live in Florida. I entered into a contract with a company that is in California, yet we did all this business via email, mail, and phone. Needless to say the company in California failed to uphold their end of the contract. Can I file claim in Florida since I live here and entered into and signed the contract in Florida or do I have to file claim where the business resides?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    Default Re: Where to File Small Claims Case

    Maybe. There's a good chance that a Florida court would find that it has jurisdiction over an out-of-state company engaging in business in your state. But then you have to enforce the judgment in California. It may make more sense, depending on the facts and how much money is involved, to sue in California.

    Also, read your contracts - sometimes they dictate where any litigation is to be filed.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
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    Key West, FL
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    2,350

    Default Re: Where to File Small Claims Case

    It would cost a fortune to sue them in California. Why play that game when you likely don't have to?

    Sue in Florida. Use the long arm statute for personal jurisdiction. They probably made more than the minimum contacts to establish Florida jurisdiction. It does not take much.

    It is up to them to file an answer and argue lack of personal jurisdiction.

    Then there will be a hearing on jurisdiction. Assuming they are a corporation or other business entity and you are not in small claims court, they will have to appear by counsel, either in person or by telephone. If in small claims, I have no idea if they can appear by telephone. They will have to file a motion to do so in any case.

    IF the contract sets the forum state (which would be CA) that applies to actions for breach of contract. If you can sue them for fraud and other torts, then I doubt it would apply, though they would certainly argue it should. Courts set aside forum provisions regularly in the interest of justice. Besides, if they breached the contract, how can they expect you to honor the choice of forum language of the broken contract? That is another good argument to void that clause.

    If the judge finds personal jurisdiction, then the case will proceed.

    Assuming at the end that you win, you take your judgment and have a CA attorney or judgment collection firm in CA file it in the county were the firm is located and then proceed to execute against their assets until the judgment is satisfied. Some firms don't even require an upfront payment, they will take their fee out of what they collect for you.

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